General Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, has rejected the ceasefire proposed by the Turkish and Russian presidents as a way to de-escalate the hostilities with the government in Tripoli, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said on Jan. 9.
“We welcome [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s call for a cease-fire. However, our fight against terrorist organizations that seized Tripoli and received support of some countries, will continue until the end,” Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said on a video posted to social media.
A day earlier, Turkey and Russia called on all parties in Libya to stop hostilities and declare a ceasefire at midnight on Jan. 12.
The call was made during talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Putin in Istanbul on Jan. 8.
The leaders held their first meeting early in the day, then launched TurkStream natural gas pipeline in a ceremony and held a second meeting afterwards.
Speaking to the press following the talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov shared information on the contents of the meetings.
Both leaders urged all parties in Libya to come together around a negotiating table for peace.
In a joint statement, Turkey and Russia called on parties in Libya to “declare a sustainable ceasefire, supported by the necessary measures to be taken for stabilizing the situation on the ground and normalizing daily life in Tripoli and other cities.”
Turkey’s parliament last week approved a motion on deploying troops to Libya upon a request from the country’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Moscow and Ankara support opposing sides in the Libyan conflict, with the former backing the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar and the latter supporting the GNA led by Fayez al-Sarraj.
The GNA has been trying to repel an attack by Haftar’s forces on Tripoli.
Iran, US should act ‘with restraint, common sense’
On the tension between Iran and the U.S., Erdoğan and Putin said they were “deeply concerned about the escalation of tension between the U.S. and Iran.”
“We evaluate the U.S. air operation targeting the Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qassem Soleimani and his entourage in Baghdad on 3 January 2020 as an act undermining security and stability in the region,” read the statement.
The statement also urged both Iran and the U.S. to act “with restraint and common sense,” saying they should prioritize diplomacy.
Last week, Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.
His death marked a dramatic escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since U.S. President Donald Trump chose in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw Washington from a 2015 nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran.
Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who bestowed the country’s highest honor on Soleimani last year, vowed “severe retaliation” in response to his killing.
Early on Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.
Erdoğan, Putin reiterate commitment for Syria’s sovereignty
On the ongoing Syria crisis, Erdoğan and Putin reiterated commitment for “sovereignty, independence, political unity and territorial integrity of Syria.”
The joint statement also urged greater humanitarian aid to “all Syrians, without discrimination, politicization and preconditions.”
Earlier, the two leaders inaugurated the TurkStream pipeline, which will deliver Russian gas to Turkey and further to southern European states.